As I have done for the past few years, last year I posted this FanPost analyzing the off-season moves and the impact they had on the Bears' overall talent. Another offseason, another analysis: Do the Bears appear to have a better team for 2013 than they did in 2012
The basis for this article is the quote: "If you are not getting better you are getting worse" applied towards the NFL off-season. The results of the 2012 season were actually better than average, but Lovie still lost his job due to the lack of playoff success during his tenure. Does the 2013 squad have enough to make Trestman look like a hero?
Let's check out each phase of the team:
Special Teams: Last year's rule change drastically lowered the impact of kickoff returns. Devin Hester is still the return specialist, but will he improve now that he will not be featured in the offense? Patrick Mannelly is injured, but Robbie Gould and Adam Podlesh return and offer consistency. The biggest question is how the change in coaches affects the performance. The rest of the "teams" squad is still TBD, but that standard practice until the roster cuts hit. I expect Hester to find the end zone again now that his offensive duties have been eliminated. Assessment: Improved (slightly).
Defense: What a difference a year makes! Gone are LB's Urlacher and Roach. In are...well...we don't know for sure. I'm going ahead with the prediction that Jon Bostic will be the starter - if not for week 1, then sometime during the season. Alongside him will be the always stellar Lance Briggs and James Anderson, a new face that seems to be a slight upgrade over Roach, at least in terms of athleticism. The rest of the starting defense looks much the same as last year, with Israel Idonije's departure resulting from Corey Wootton's ascension to starting DE. Shea McClellin looks stronger, and will be a welcome addition as a pass rush specialist, while depth behind Henry Melton is the only real question heading into the season. Depth is not a strength, so injuries are a concern, but most teams have the same issues and there are a few developmental players who may be able to fill in adequately. Overall, the biggest change is the new play-caller. Lovie Smith ran a stellar defense year after year, Mel Tucker is the great unknown at this point. Last year's defense was once-in-a-lifetime lucky with turnovers. Assessment: Worse (but not significantly)
Offense: This is a difficult analysis. In terms of overall talent, the line has improved, the WR corps should be improved, Forte is still a dangerous weapon, and Bennett is a huge upgrade at TE. Cutler is still a big block of "potential," and depth across the entire offense is nearly non-existent. That sounds like hyperbole, but besides Bush at RB, do we have any offensive depth that would start on another NFL team? None that I can think of. With a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and 4 of 5 new starters across the line, no one has enough information to give any real analysis of the Bears' offense. I have to go with my gut on this one. If everything comes together: the WCO, new line, and skill position talent combined with coaching that is not inept could put a lot of points on the board. Assessment: (much) Improved
Last year optimism led me to believe that Tice was the real deal. I relied on him to improve the line and the play-calling, and he failed - miserably. Here's to hoping the Bears are playoff bound, but that can only happen if Trestman/Kromer can successfully introduce the concept of offense to the Chicago Bears. Barring major injuries, this is likely a top 5 defense and a top 5 special teams unity. Recent history indicates that if the Bears can field an average offense, they should make the playoffs. If they can put together a good offense, they can go deep into the playoffs with the Super Bowl an unlikely, but still possible, conclusion to the season.
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- The Bears Den: August 20, 2013 - Preseason news and notes
- Bears to play starters at least 1st half versus Raiders
- 2013 Stats over/under: The offensive line
- Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and Beyond
- Bears' restructure of Webb's contract neither confirms nor denies his place on opening day roster
- Bears' Six-Pack Keys to Victory: Preseason Week 3, Raiders Edition